HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont is extending Connecticut’s State of Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic – along with his emergency powers – until April 20, 2021.
The governor made the announcement on Tuesday that he signed the declaration, and said that this extension applies to both the civil preparedness emergency and public health emergency.
Lamont originally declared the emergencies on March 10, 2020, in order for the state to adequately respond to the coronavirus pandemic. It was set to expire on September 9, 2020, but was then renewed in the late summer and given a new expiration date of February 9, 2021.
The governor released the following statement on the extension:
The people of Connecticut are to be commended for their actions to prevent the further spread of this virus, and I truly believe that the steps they’ve taken have made an impact. That said, the virus is not going to suddenly end on February 9, and to eliminate all of these preventative measures on that day would be irresponsible and in many cases life-threatening.
Our administration remains committed to working in collaboration with the legislature on these emergency orders as we’ve done throughout this pandemic so that we can provide the best protocols needed to protect the residents of our state.”Governor Ned Lamont
With the recent development of several vaccines, officials hope that the pandemic will soon be under control. Yet the virus currently continues to rapidly spread so emergency measures are still needed to mitigate the impact.
The state’s four legislative leaders and a committee of ten lawmakers now have 72 hours to respond to the governor’s declaration. If they vote to “veto” it then it expires on February 9. If they do not act, the declaration automatically goes into effect.
Republican leaders call the extension, “a matter of convenience” and are seeking a more collaborative decision-making process.
Republicans House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora and Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly said Tuesday there is very little the legislature can do to prevent the governor from giving himself more power, but says that should change.
State Rep. Candelora said, “We also ask that any future extensions be voted on by the legislature. There are 25 other states where legislatures have input.”
State Senator Kelly added, “All we are asking is that the representatives elected by our communities and sent to Hartford to be their voice actually get the opportunity to be their voice…The best policy comes when all voices are heard not just the executive, that voice.”
Republicans say they are not trying to stop the governor from extending his emergency powers, they just want compromise.
There is a 10-member committee that must approve the extension, but democrats control that group and it is unlikely they would go against the governor’s wishes.
One of the things Republicans want is for churches and businesses to be allowed more freedom in terms of loosening up opening restrictions during the pandemic.